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The national sport of Korea continues to have two channels dedicated to it to this day. Starcraft 2 is an institution in Korea and is considered a pivotal game in the evolution of Esports. It was the first real-time-strategy game to become popular as an Esport and its simplicity makes it really easy to pick up to this day. Although it launched to replace the original StarCraft in 2010, two expansion packs have come out to keep the series fresh and interesting. Heart of the Swarm dropped in March 2013, while Legacy of the Void released in 2015.

The Game

In Starcraft II, you can play as one of three races, the Protoss, Zerg, or Terran. Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses and your goal in this game is to destroy the other team’s base.

The Protoss are a strong, technologically advanced species that possesses psionic abilities. Protoss players focus on building quality units instead of quantity and they are better fighters the further along you go in a game.

Have you ever heard the term Zerg rush? This game is what it comes from. The Zerg aren’t very technological and instead rely on sheer presence of numbers in order to win games. Their units aren’t as strong as the other races, but you can control more of them and that helps, especially early in the game.

Terrans are the other playable race in the game. They are essentially humans who are great at gathering resources and are a mix between the Protoss and Zerg when it comes to the quality vs. quantity debate.

Each one of these races has been essentially ‘broken’ at one point or another ever since the game came out. Blizzard’s tweaks are designed to make the game as even as possible, but all too often they give one side an enormous advantage.

The Competitive Scene

Starcraft 2 tournaments are still played throughout the world but the prize purses have slowly dropped over the last few years. Unsurprisingly, most of the big tournaments are played in Seoul, South Korea, and even more unsurprisingly, Koreans have been the big winners of these events.

The game was incredibly popular in the early 2010s, and multiple companies started multiple leagues in order to attract the best talent. That arms race somewhat weakened the game’s standing as an Esport though, and it took an even bigger hit in 2016 when one of Starcraft 2’s top players was banned for life and sentenced to jail time for match fixing. Starcraft 2 had seen a major scandal involving players throwing matches before, and this further stained the game’s reputation inside and outside of Korea.

The Future

Starcraft 2 has lost a lot of traction to other Esports, particularly League of Legends in its native Korea. There are only a handful of major competitions outside of Korea, and the only major league is the Global Starcraft II League which plays all of its matches in Korea.

The game has seen some quality players from other regions too, but almost all of the greats are Korean. Grrrr… and Scarlett are a couple of the handful of non-Korean players to achieve a lot of success in the game, and they sparked interest in their regions for a little while. However, Starcraft 2 never fully caught on as an Esport anywhere outside of Korea.

This game remains intensely popular in Korea. It is the only RTS game of its ilk and will still be around for years to come. After nine years of playing on the original Starcraft II, a new version would likely revive the franchise and once again send prize pools soaring. It’s only a matter of time before Blizzard makes it happen.

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